By John Murph | Published June 2022
Like a lot of art created during 2020 that relied on collaboration, the story of determination and realization behind Mirrors fascinates more than the results. Let’s call it a pandemic-era art dilemma.
In August 2020, when the world was still grappling with the coronavirus without vaccines, Justin Stanton, Gisela João, Michael League, Louis Cato and Becca Stevens convened in the Alentejo region of western Portugal and engaged in a musical workshop. They stipulated that each member would co-write a song with another. The fact that this cosmopolitan quintet with members hailing from the U.S., Spain and Portugal managed to gather in one place amid strict travel restrictions is impressive unto itself. And each musician is admirable in their ability to underscore the earnest with erudition.
The thing is, nothing quite catches fire. The album starts out promisingly, with the percolating vocal melody of “Can’t Stop Moving,” but the arrangement quickly morphs into a dreamy soundscape, highlighted by languid guitars and keyboards. The lyrics behind Stevens’ emotive vocals gets swallowed up, leading the listener to lean in to decipher the words without any revelatory reward.
From there, the album proceeds with lacquered, shoe-gazing art pop, fueled by themes of longing for deeper connections.
The music is pretty but middling. For all its heartfelt intentions, Mirrors is the musical equivalent of Ikea furniture: sleekly designed, functional and anonymously appealing.
Mirrors: Can’t Stop Moving; The Call; Say It; Sleep; Una Rosa; Over The Line; Weary; I Don’t Blame The Wind; Tempestade; Life Is Fine. (39:23)
Personnel: Becca Stevens, vocals, charango, electric guitar, hammertone, acoustic guitar; Justin Stanton, trumpet, piano, keyboards, synth bass, drum programming; Gisela João, vocals; Louis Cato, vocals, acoustic guitars, electric guitar, drums, drum programming, percussion; Michael League, electric bass, percussion, synth bass, background vocals; Nathan Schram, viola, violin (4, 5, 8, 10).
Ordering Info: groundupmusic.net